A passenger has sued Asiana Airlines, one of South Korea's two major airlines, seeking 200 million won ($171,000 ) in compensation after she was burned by instant noodles, the Korea Times reported. The woman suffered burns on her thighs and reproductive organs from a spill on a plane in March 2014.
The woman in her mid-30s filed the suit with the Seoul Central District Court. Identified only by her last name, Jang, the passenger claimed that Asiana Airlines did not react to the spill responsibly. Jang claimed in the suit that she ordered noodles on a flight from Incheon, South Korea, to Paris, and that a flight attendant lost her balance and spilled the scorching noodles onto her lap.
Jang, a former supermodel turned bakery owner, claimed that Asiana didn't react with timely medical help, making the situation worse. Her suit says crew members refused to check for a doctor onboard the flight and that the crew did not have gauze, treating her only with ice cubes and Tylenol until the plane landed in Paris. A flight from Incheon to Paris takes about 10 to 11 hours, although it is unclear at what point during the flight the spill occurred.
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Asiana refuted Jang's claims, saying the spill was her fault. "She mistakenly hit the tray, causing the noodles to fall on her," a company official said, according to the Korea Times. "Besides, we gave her proper first-aid treatment at that time, including wound cleansing and applying ointment, following the instructions of a doctor on board."
Jang claimed there have been long-term effects from the spill and resulting burns. She said that since the incident she has had difficulty having sex with her husband because of the wounds and that a doctor said she may never be able to get pregnant. She also said that the burns halted her career in broadcasting, fashion and hair design because her physical beauty has been affected. Jang further claimed she cannot work at her bakery because the trauma left her with a fear of working near hot ovens.
The lawsuit is reminiscent of a 1992 case in which a woman was awarded nearly $3 million after suing McDonald's for burns from spilled coffee. The case initially was widely dismissed as a frivolous lawsuit. But soon details emerged showing that the case involved a 79-year-old woman who suffered severe burns after spilling hot coffee in a parked car.
Asiana initially offered about 60 million won ($51,000) to cover Jang's medical expenses, but she declined the offer. She filed the suit, citing rules that hold airlines responsible for up to $113,100 in damages, unless passengers inflict injuries upon themselves, the Korea Times reported.